The World Music Mission to Kampala, Uganda has been accomplished! It’s been a week since we returned from our long and successful trip. After a little breathing room, I’m ready to recap the last few days of the trip. Buckle up, this will be a longer, but most insightful post.
With three days packed full of teaching and learning in the books, the last day of our conference kicked off. By the early afternoon, we had a full house of students eager to soak up the last bits of wisdom being offered.
Towards the end of the day, students were invited to come up and share what they had learned during the conference. I was really touched by the several students who came forth and spoke. One of those was a young man named Emmanuel, who also participated in my photography workshop each day. You can see from the photo below that he had taken pages of notes during the conference, and he was clearly impacted by what he learned.
There was also a time of gift giving for Kurt and the rest of our WMM team. The folks from EA Gospel were very generous in thinking through some specific gifts to bless the four of us with. They even gave us gifts to give our wives and girlfriends! It was very thoughtful of them.
Continuing in the spirt of giving gifts, we officially presented the EA Gospel media team with a new Digital SLR camera. This is something they have been in desperate need of, as they have been renting camera gear and incurring a lot of expense. Now, they are more equipped to record photos and videos on their own, with the purpose of growing their outreach and their mission. I can tell you that they were SO GRATEFUL for this gift. Any of you who gave financially to support this mission played a role in this success. Thank you!
Once the conference ended, there was a fun time of reminiscing and picture-taking in front of the “celebrity banner.” Does Frank’s smile ever get old? I say “nay.”
Speaking of Frank, I had been given some new hats to give to some of my new friends in Uganda. They came from my friends at Agency MJ. You can see how pumped Moses and Frank were for their new “swag.”
I completed a number of interviews during the course of the conference, to get feedback from the students and for use in some upcoming video projects. As I’ve said in previous posts, the feedback was incredibly and genuinely positive from all of the students. They felt so fortunate to have our team come and impart knowledge and experience to them. One of my favorite interview subjects was this young man, Joseph. He didn’t let a physical disability keep him from attending the conference, and always had this infectious smile on his face. He was a true inspiration to me.
These two ladies kept the mood light and the laughs coming all week. Gladys and Brendah were sweet spirits to be around, and I’m especially thankful for their help on the last night of our trip. They walked several miles with me into Kampala so I could buy gifts for my girlfriend and family from the local market. Brendah may or may not have saved me from being run over by a boda boda…
We gathered for a group photo in the gardens behind the hotel. This represents only a portion of all the attendees. Several had already left by the time we took this photo. However, you can see the delight in their faces. Cheers to Kurt for being the token white person in this image 😉
A quick and exciting side story from the conference:
The first day of our trip, a man showed up at our hotel to greet us (in the middle of the photo below). He is a relative of one of Brian’s friends – yes, a distant connection for sure. Yet he was anxious to meet and talk with us. We found out that he and his family were Muslims, though he seemed interested in learning more about our faith and about the conference. He ended up coming for a day of the conference, and then on the very last morning of our trip, he showed up one more time. Through his conversation with Kurt, Brian and Anthony, he ended up making a commitment to believe in and follow Jesus! It was a stunning turnaround, and you could visibly see the brightness in his countenance. Coming from a family of Muslims, his conversion to following Christ will not be well-received, and he likely has a difficult path ahead of him. However, he clearly had been indwelled by the Holy Spirit and had confidence to face the coming days. What an unexpected blessing it was to witness!
Finally, we left the hotel for one last meeting with friends. We were invited for breakfast at Jonah and Caleb’s house (two men who are on the media team for EA Gospel). It was great to venture out beyond the hotel for the first time in several days, and there were lots of intriguing sights to be captured along the way.
Jonah and Caleb’s family treated us to a delicious, home-cooked meal. I especially enjoyed the company and prayer of their father, Pastor James.
We also presented Jonah with a handheld recorder and lapel mike, which they can use for their video and audio production moving forward. It was another
At last, it was time to pack up our bags and head back for home. Richard was gracious to help us load his Land Cruiser and drive us back to the airport. He impressed us with his audacious driving skills in order to get us to the aiport on time 🙂
Luckily we had a few spare minutes to stop at Lake Victoria, the largest lake in all of Africa. I dipped my fingers in to the cold, refreshing water for just a few seconds.
It was a difficult goodbye for all of us once we arrived at the airport. Many bonds were formed during our trip. The EA Gospel team made it clear how much they appreciated us, and how much they would miss us. Of course, the feeling was mutual.
Soon we were airborne and away from the African continent. We were treated to a splendid show of clouds and terrain along the way back to Dubai.
As we entered Dubai airspace in the evening, I found the array of city lights to be intriguing.
The airport in Dubai impressed us with it’s magnificent architecture.
After a few hours of layover, which included a nice sampling of chocolate truffles, we boarded our Airbus for a 14 hour flight back to the USA. I think we all slept some, enjoyed some good movies and food, and then this absolutely spectacular sunrise.
For the final leg of our trip, we had a day-long layover in Washington DC. We chose to rent a car and explore the many monuments, memorials, and museums.
We did a good bit of walking, which felt great after nearly 36 hours of flights and layovers. A lunch stop at a local pizza joint called “&Pizza” was a hit with all of us, and a welcome change from airplane food.
For this first time, I laid eyes on the Ford Theatre, where Abraham Lincoln was shot. It’s so fascinating to stand there and try to imagine back in time to what life was like back then.
Our final stop on this entire trip was the Holocaust Museum. Though we hadn’t planned this in advance, it ended up being a very sobering end to our adventure. I was struck by so much of what I saw and read, truly too much to put into words. I will forever be impacted by my experience at the museum, and plan to return for a longer tour in the future.
This is the conclusion of the World Music Mission to Uganda. As I stated at the beginning, I feel as though we have fully accomplished our mission. Many new relationships were formed, and many others deepened. People from two different continents gathered together to share in worship of our God. Much wisdom was imparted during the conference, and also during the in-between time. I witnessed each member of our team spending quality 1 on 1 time with several different students and staff from EA Gospel. What’s more, the Ugandan people impacted us deeply, through their spirited worship music, prayers, and hospitality.
The model of World Music Mission is working, as evidenced by this trip. The impact of our team and the conference was significant. Beyond that, Kurt’s new vision for “Imagine Music Schools” is also in motion. Kurt helped plant the EA Gospel Academy last year, a school that is now being equipped to become self-sustaining over the next two years. The perfect example of the success of Imagine Music Schools is Frank, who appeared many times in my blog posts. 10 months ago, Frank couldn’t play the guitar. Now, he has graduated the beginner course, and is teaching this course to other beginners. He will soon graduate the intermediate course and begin teaching that as well. This is proof of the equipping model in action. We need more Franks!
On my end, I was able to capture over 4,000 photographs, and hours upon hours of video footage. This trip was extremely well documented, and we are hard at work preparing the images and videos for good use. They will be instruments for sharing the message and mission of World Music Mission for years to come, and for that, I feel extremely proud.
Finally, I would like to say a special thanks to the leadership team of EA Gospel. Samson, Brian and Richard, among others, were such gracious hosts to us. I will never forget their kindness and generosity towards us, despite the limited resources they have. I plan to keep in touch with them, and I am actively praying for how I might be able to support their ministries in Uganda.
I invite you to spend some time learning more about World Music Mission and EA Gospel Mission. They are both in need of partners to financially support the work they are doing for God’s Kingdom. I can personally attest to the genuineness and arduous faith of the leadership, and the legitimate needs of both.
Thank you for following along on this trip, and a special thanks to those who supported me financially. I am forever grateful.